Program Goals, Philosophy, and Perspectives

Special education is a teacher preparation program that results in eligibility for an Ohio teaching license as an Intervention Specialist in Mild to Moderate Disabilities, K-12. Special education is one teaching area that continues to show growth – about 17% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our special education majors typically are able to obtain positions in this field upon graduation, either in or outside Ohio.

The Special Education major leads to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with an initial four-year educator license as an intervention specialist in mild-moderate special needs. The license allows you to teach all children who have mild to moderate disabilities in kindergarten through 12th grade.

  • The Mild-Moderate Intervention Specialist is an educator who has expertise in designing and implementing educational programs and services for children and youth needing mild to moderate support in the general education classroom and other educational settings. Miami offers special pathways for students interested in teaching in urban areas, and for those interested in a focus on English Language Learners.

Goals and Philosophy

The philosophy of the Miami University Special Education Teacher Preparation Program is represented in the following statements:

• A belief that all learners have equal value and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and be held to high standards
• Disability is a normally occurring phenomenon in the human condition requiring a challenge to the notion of disability as “other”
• Professionals must work together in collaboration in order to provide optimal services to children with learning differences
• Teaching is both a science and an art. Therefore, teachers must be well-prepared with a wide and rich knowledge base of evidence-based practices and be able to see each student as an individual, developing positive relationships with students and their families
• Social and cultural factors continue to prevent some children from receiving the best possible education and lead to over-representation of minorities and children living in poverty in special education. Educators must be aware of these factors and develop tools to work against these forces while cultivating pathways for success for all learners
• Because of inequities in our field, we must take leadership in envisioning and shaping new means of meeting the needs of all students in public schools in a just and equitable fashion.

The Miami University Special Education Program seeks to develop and prepare Intervention Specialists who
• Reflect critically on their teaching during field experiences, relating their work to professional standards
• Write an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that interprets assessments and translates results into appropriate goals for a child with a disability
• Develop lesson plans to bridge curricula with students’ IEP goals

Historical and Current Perspectives

The advent of formalized and federally mandated special education services for children with disabilities in the United States began in 1975 with the passage of Public Law 94-142, The Education for All Handicapped Act. This law required a free, appropriate public education for all children. Prior to P.L. 94-142, children were regularly excluded from school and society, often institutionalized and subjected to the cruelest forms of ill treatment, ostracized from society in many instances.

Since the passage of this landmark federal law, children with all types of special needs have been included in public schools. This law has been reauthorized multiple times and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Its most current re-authorization was passed by Congress in 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, P.L. 108-446, with updates in Parts B and C in 2004 and 2010, consecutively). Its current name reflects the move toward Person First language and a more inclusive view of students with disabilities, as well as expanded ages of coverage, from 0 to 21 years, and greater emphasis on transition for older students. More recent reauthorizations have included students with mild-moderate disabilities in general education assessment and accountability systems.

It is essential to remain aware of our nation’s past traditions with people who were considered “outside the norm” in order to fully understand policies that ostracize, marginalize or institute what is known from our history to be bad practice. By maintaining a broad base of historical and current knowledge regarding the origins and progress of special education, our program can focus on forward thinking, seeking innovation in the manner by which educational services are provided to children who need additional supports in school to reach optimum potential. The influence of the Disability Studies movement helps to further de-stigmatize “difference” and situate dis/ability as a normally occurring phenomenon within contemporary society. Finally, the role of the new generation of special educators is crucial to the future of our field. The challenge of holding all students to high standards, and determining how to create new systems that are equitable and ethical, will be in your hands.